Most modern TV sets automatically use a digital effect called video interpolation, or motion smoothing, to reduce the blur that can be seen during sporting events and other high-definition programming. To execute the process, TVs insert extra frames into the content, artificially increasing the frame rate and “smoothing out” the action on-screen.
But, as the two Hollywood power players explain, motion smoothing also has unintended consequences.
“It makes most movies look like they were shot on high-speed video rather than film. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘soap opera effect,' " Cruise says. Because movies are typically shot at 24 frames per second, with blurriness occurring naturally, motion smoothing changes the way a film appears in ways that directors did not intend and can give them an unwanted, hyper-polished look.
“Most HD TVs come with this feature already on, by default,” Cruise says. “Turning it off requires navigating a set of menus” on a viewer’s television. As Engadget notes, TV manufacturers have their own names for the same feature on their menus: “Motionflow” for Sony TVs, for example, and “Motion Rate Supreme” or “Auto Motion Plus” for Samsung TVs.
McQuarrie recommends that viewers search online to find how-to guides to disable motion smoothing on the brand of TV they use. With the effect disabled, he said, “you can enjoy the movie you are about to see exactly as the filmmakers intended.”
As the website the A.V. Club reported earlier this year, other directors are also speaking out against motion smoothing. Reed Morano, James Gunn and Rian Johnson have all criticized the feature.